FLINT, MI -- Police continue to investigate the shooting death Oct. 30 of a man believed to be the oldest homicide victim in recent memory.
Iris Gardner, 92, heard a knock on his door around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday at his home on Race Street near Myrtle Avenue, police said. When he opened the door, someone shot him once in the torso and fled the scene, police said. Police have no suspect information.
Flint Police Capt. T.P. Johnson said he can't remember an older homicide victim in his 27 years with the department.
"Obviously he was no threat to anyone," he said. "This was a random act of violence that did not have any rhyme or reason to it."
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Gardner was one of the older homicide victims he's heard of during his time as prosecutor.
"It's terrible, just terrible," Leyton said. "It's very difficult to imagine how a 92-year- old was a threat to anyone."
Gardner's niece, Joann Cooper, 55, of Flint, said her family is shocked that her uncle would die that way.
"I never figured he would get gunned down in his own house," she said. "One part is anger, and the other part is grieving. It's like two emotions wrapped into one."
Detective Robert Dunham said police have very little information to go on and that the crime is disturbing.
"The worst thing about the whole thing is the people that did it aren't talking," he said. "They are out running the streets. If they are willing to kill a 92-year-old, who wouldn't they kill?"
Cooper said her uncle grew up during the Great Depression in a small town in Georgia. He would talk about being so poor that he had to walk to school in his bare feet during the winter, she said.
He came to Flint in the 1950s or 1960s and worked as a supervisor at a junkyard for 30 years, Cooper said. In his older age, he still remained active, continuing to drive, walk around in the neighborhood and do yard work, family said.
"If you would have saw him, you would have thought he was still 78," Cooper said.
He was a World War II veteran and a big fan of the Detroit Tigers who was excited about the team's recent playoff run.
Gardner did have a brush with the law. He was on the state sex offender registry for a 1993 conviction of misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct, fourth degree, according to records. He served 90 days in the Genesee County Jail. Cooper said his family maintains that he was innocent, and his accuser later recanted her story.
Neighbor Elois Thames, 26, said Gardner was a friendly man. She was upset that he would die in a violent manner.
"It's just senseless, he didn't bother anybody," she said.
Cooper said Gardner did not have any children and was the last surviving member of his siblings. Funeral arrangements are being handled at Lawrence E. Moon Funeral Home.
In the meantime, his family will continue to grieve his death.
"It's like somebody ripped out your heart and took it," Cooper said. ..Source.. by David Harris